Why I Write my Novels Longhand
Do authors really write their novels longhand anymore? The answer is yes and no. Many authors type their manuscripts onto their computer from scratch. However, I know of several authors who write the first draft long hand. And I am one of them. Old fashioned? Yes. Is this tedious method of writing beneficial to the writing process as a whole? I will say yes.
At the start of April in 2010, I began the writing of my second novel, ‘To be Maria’. I was at my friend’s office. The office was empty and I was pretending to be working. That is when the right words for this novel came to me. I could have opened up a separate word document on my friend’s computer, but where would I save my work? I couldn’t save it on her computer. Besides, I was never good at typing stories. The glaring, white screen always stymied the flow of my creative thoughts. Thankfully, I had brought several pages of paper and a pen along with me to the office.
The words flowed from my brain in the way they were supposed to flow. And, they didn’t stop. By the time five ‘o’ clock rolled around, I had completed almost two chapters. The rest of the spring was dedicated to ‘To be Maria’. I was so engulfed in the story that I could think of nothing else. It was like magic. And, I didn’t once touch a keyboard.
As I mentioned before, writing an entire novel longhand is tedious. It takes much longer to complete than if typed onto a computer. However, it is arguably the best method of writing a novel. The creative thought process works so much better with a pen and paper in hand. All writers wrote their books longhand in the days before typewriters, so why can’t writers do the same today?
Writing longhand nurtures character and plot development. Why? When the creative thought process is going strong, there are no limitations. There is no internal editor that will tell you what your characters’ should and shouldn’t do and what should and shouldn’t happen in the storyline. You can write away and you don’t have to worry about the editing until you have completed the entire paper draft.
Now that you’ve completed your manuscript, it is time to type it all out. You are not starting your novel from scratch because you already have a working draft. And, you are certainly not going to type it all word by word. You will more than likely add on to scenes, leave out scenes and rewrite entire scenes, entire chapters. The grammar may not be the hottest, so you will also find yourself correcting sentences, phrases, dialogue structure and inconsistencies in spelling and plotline. The paper draft is only a guideline. You must use it to build your story.
The wonderful thing about having a paper draft is that it allows you to catch common and less common mistakes you otherwise will miss when reading over your work off the computer screen. You will not be able to catch every single mistake when transferring your paper draft to computer. But, you will have a stepping stone–the material to work with to create a stellar novel.
It is for these reasons why I am writing ‘To be Maria’ longhand. It is why I wrote ‘Day of Revenge’–my historical suspense novel set in revolutionary France–longhand. And, it is the reason why I will write all of my future novels longhand. I realize that every writer is different and not every writer is comfortable with longhand writing. In this case, I suggest you do what is most comfortable, but I encourage you to give longhand writing a try. It might just get those creative juices flowing. You will never know until you try.
Here’s a little blurb about Deanna’s new book:
Available for puchase: